3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars
Overly long and too busy, 3 April 2015
I bought this having read 'I know this much is true', which I had enjoyed but been disappointed by the ending.
I bought 'The hour I first believed' expecting a personal account of a fictional Columbine survivor.
Approx the first fifth of the book is pre-Columbine and develops the main character, and his relationships with his wife and family.
The next section is given over to Columbine, and long transcripts of the actual killer's videos and diaries. This is space which could have been used to give the character's reactions rather than reproducing information available outside of this book.
Then the book skips ahead a significant period, with Columbine being referenced as the "bifurcation" point of their lives, but this seems to be pushed into the background with all of the many themes which are subsequently shoe-horned into this book: drugs, death, law-suits, illegitimacy, family lost and found, infidelity, family trees, PTSD, 9/11, Hurricane Katrina, the Iraq War. In addition to the overly busy plot, the narrative skips between the main character's viewpoint, letters and diaries from the 1800s, newspaper articles, excerpts from faux books, transcripts from the Columbine killers' journals, the whole of someone's PhD thesis.
As a result it is hard to get invested in any of the characters, of which there are too many spanning hundreds of years. Unfortunately I was skim-reading this book from about halfway through and lost interest in what happened to them.
I would give the author another go as I enjoyed one of his other books until the ending, and the first part of this one, but I was disappointed with most of this book.